By JASON MITCHELL
On Monday, Seattle Sounders part owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer indicated a decision on retaining head coach Sigi Schmid could take weeks.
Majority owner Joe Roth issued a press release Thursday morning announcing Schmid’s return for the 2014 season. Hours later Roth and Hanauer held a joint conference call reaffirming that decision and strongly backing Schmid as the right coach to lead the team into its sixth MLS campaign.
The two held a lengthy meeting with Schmid earlier this week in Los Angeles.
“What I was looking for was a two-hour face-to-face with the coach [to] voice my opinions and hear his responses, to make sure that we’re on the same page,” Roth said. “I felt like once we got past that, there was really no point to wait any longer [to announce the decision]—the decision was to keep him on, and to keep him on with full support.”
Many in the media presumed Schmid’s job was up in the air following a late-season collapse that ended with an ugly loss to the Portland Timbers in the conference semifinals, but both Hanauer and Roth made it sound like Schmid’s return was perhaps never truly in doubt.
“This was not about possible replacements,” Roth said when asked if the team had seriously considered other coaches. “John Wooden died a few years ago. Other than that I can’t think of anyone.”
“In our meeting we heard that Sigi had the same commitment to the tough decisions ahead,” Hanauer added, “to the kind of soccer we want to play, and to the mentality that we want our team to represent for our brand and our fans.”
While noting that the entire coaching staff undergoes end-of-year review every season, Hanauer said he expects Schmid’s staff to return in full.
“It’s full steam ahead,” he said.
Both Hanauer and Roth portrayed the meeting as less of a typical performance review, and more of a joint attempt to make sense of a lost season and ensure the organization’s three leading men are on the same page moving forward.
“Whatever team we put on the field next year, they will be the responsibility of Sigi,” Roth said. “I wanted to make sure [I understood] how that was going to go, and what his opinion was, and what his opinion was of the team that he had.”
“It was not an emotional meeting whatsoever,” Roth added. “It was a two-hour, very frank conversation about the disaster of winning one of our last 10 games.”
Asked why Schmid wasn’t on the conference call, Roth replied, “We’re here to support him. He doesn’t have to defend himself. We’re here to support him.”
While refusing to comment on reports the team is trying to trade forward Eddie Johnson, Hanauer acknowledged actively pursuing offseason changes.
“We’re busy at work,” he said, “and as we make decisions you’ll become aware of them.”
What do you think of the Sounders’ decision to keep Schmid? Think he deserves a chance to coach a full season with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins? Wish Seattle had gone another direction?
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